Weekend links 151

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Untitled art by Yang Yongliang. There’s more at But Does It Float.

• “Newly unearthed ITV play could be first ever gay television drama“. Writer Gerald Savory, incidentally, also adapted Dracula for the BBC in 1977, still the version that’s closest to the novel.

Craig Redman and Karl Maier‘s poster designs for the Bavarian State Opera.

Lustmord: ambient’s dark star, and The Strange World of Scanner.

The cats are tapping the old man for psychic sap, milking him, stalking through rubbled dreams of the coming Land of the Dead. On subsequent US visits – to Bastrop in Texas and Phoenix, Arizona – I learned about the fellowship of those internal exiles, the hardcore writers: Michael Moorcock, Jim Sallis. Like Burroughs, they kept cats and guns (Mike’s was a replica). Cats infiltrate mystery fiction: men with coffee habits, ex-drinkers, post-traumatic spooks solving crimes the hard way. Moorcock uses cats like a scarf, like Peter Sellers in The Wrong Box; their claws scratch runes into his easy chair.

Iain Sinclair remembers visiting William Burroughs. I remember meeting those Moorcock moggies; not as interesting to reminisce about, however.

The Ghosts of Antarctica: Abandoned Stations and Huts.

• A Masterpiece of the Ridiculous by Jocelyn Brooke.

• “Chance is a good librarian,” says Alberto Manguel.

• Mix of the week: dub from Bristol duo Zhou.

The Aleph: Infinite Wonder / Infinite Pity.

Sarah Lee‘s underwater photography.

Arthur #34 is out!

Underwater (1979) by Harry Thumann | Underwater Church (1992) by Conrad Schnitzler | Underwater Flowers (2003) by John Foxx & Harold Budd

Weekend links 73

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Johnny Trunk of Trunk Records reissued the soundtrack to The Wicker Man in 1997. Mr Trunk’s latest delve into the cultural past is Own Label: Sainsbury’s Design Studio, a book from Fuel examining the supermarket chain’s packaging design of the 1960s and 1970s. Creative Review shows some examples while I have to note the uncanny similarity between one of the posters for The Wicker Man and an old Sainsbury’s corn flakes box. Now we see that the Old Weird Britain wasn’t only hiding in the fields and the folk songs but was also lurking on the supermarket shelves.

Related: a new DVD set from the BFI, Here’s a Health to the Barley Mow: A Century of Folk Customs and Ancient Rural Games. And let’s not forget the ley lines of Milton Keynes, and a new edition of Ritual by David Pinner, said to be the novel which inspired The Wicker Man.

• “He wrote me…” Sans Soleil (1983), Chris Marker’s beguiling accumulation of memories, dreams and reflections, is recalled in a Quietus piece entitled Things that Quicken the Heart. Not the first time on DVD as it says there (Nouveaux Pictures released it with La Jetée in 2003) but it’s good to know it’s being reissued.

• Marker’s film references Tarkovsky’s Stalker a couple of times, most notably in the comment, “On that day there will be emus in the Zone.” Geoff Dyer has what he describes as “a very detailed study” of Stalker out next year.

I don’t like those commentators who keep on saying that London will never be the same again. London is always the same again. I remember those comments were made very loudly after the [July 2005] terrorist attacks – “London will never be the same again, London has lost its innocence” – it was all nonsense. London was exactly the same again the following day. Rioting has always been a London tradition. It has been since the early Middle Ages. There’s hardly a spate of years that goes by without violent rioting of one kind or another. They happen so frequently that they are almost part of London’s texture. The difference is that in the past the violence was more ferocious, and the penalties were more ferocious – in most cases, death.

Peter Ackroyd, reminding us that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse don’t wear hoodies and ride bikes.

Wolf Fifth: “rare vinyl records from the golden era of avant garde and experimental music”. And in FLAC as well, not crappy mp3; I want to hear all those scratches uncompressed, dammit!

Another great mix at FACT, this time compiled by snd who throw together Morton Feldman, Siberian shamen, Einstürzende Neubauten, Dome, Oval and many others.

• Colin Marshall asks “how weird is Australia?” in an appraisal of Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout.

A Comprehensive Solution to the Tokyo Umbrella Problem.

• More poster art from Hapshash and the Coloured Coat.

Morbid Excess, a series of drawings by May Lim.

Conrad Schnitzler (1937–2011) by Geeta Dayal.

Neopolitan cephalopods.

Willow’s Song (1973) by Paul Giovanni & Magnet | The Willow Song (1989) by The Mock Turtles | Wicker Man Song (1994) by Nature and Organisation.

Weekend links 70

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Faustine (1928) by Harry Clarke.

• This week’s Harry Clarke fix: 50 Watts reposts the Faust illustrations while Golden Age Comic Book Stories has the illustrated Swinburne.

What Goes Steam in the Night is an evening with contributors to The Steampunk Bible hosted in London by The Last Tuesday Society on September 6th:

Co-author S. J. Chambers invites you to the official U.K. celebration of her book The Steampunk Bible (Abrams Image). Part lecture, part signing, and part entertainment, S. J. will be accompanied by contributors Jema Hewitt (author of Steampunk Emporium ) and Sydney Padua (Lovelace & Babbage) for a discussion of the movement, a special performance by Victorian monster hunter, Major Jack Union, and inevitable hi-jinks and shenanigans to later be announced.

• RIP Conrad Schnitzler, an incredibly prolific electronic musician, and founder member of Tangerine Dream and Kluster/Cluster.

Golden Pavilion Records reissues fully-licensed late 60’s and 70’s psychedelic, progressive, acid-folk & art-rock music.

Dressing the Air is “an exclusive consulting and online resource for the creative industries”.

Luke Haines explains how to cook rabbit stew whilst listening to Hawkwind.

Wood pyrography by Ernst Haeckel from his home, the Villa Medusa.

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Satia Te Sanguine (1928) by Harry Clarke.

The truth is, the best novels will always defy category. Is Great Expectations a mystery or The Brothers Karamazov a whodunnit or The Scarlet Letter science fiction? Does Kafka’s Metamorphosis belong to the genre of fantasy? In reality men don’t turn into giant insects. And it’s funny. Does that mean it’s a comic novel? […] At a time when reading is in trouble, those readers left should define themselves less rigidly.

Howard Jacobson: The best fiction doesn’t need a label.

Pace the redoubtable Jacobson, Alan Jacobs believes We Can’t Teach Students to Love Reading.

How Ken Kesey’s LSD-fuelled bus trip created the psychedelic 60s.

Salvador Dalí creates something for Playboy magazine in 1973.

JG Ballard: Relics of a red-hot mind.

Electric Garden (1978) by Conrad Schnitzler | Auf Dem Schwarzen Kanal (1980) by Conrad Schnitzler.

A cluster of Cluster

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Harmonia somewhere in the 1970s: Michael Rother, Dieter Moebius, Hans-Joachim Roedelius.

Continuing the occasional { feuilleton } series exploring the byways of musical culture, this month it’s the turn of German group Cluster, prompted by their current US tour. News of their re-emergence sent me back to the albums and I’ve been listening to little else for the past week or two.

cluster.jpgMark Pilkington has very conveniently saved me the trouble of summing up the wandering history of Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius in their various incarnations with his introductory piece, Cosmic Outriders: the music of Cluster & Harmonia. Unlike many of their Krautrock contemporaries, Moebius and Roedelius have remained very active, Roedelius particularly has an extensive solo discography. I’ve never been very taken with their work since the early Eighties, however. I have an inordinate fondness for the analogue keyboards which contribute to their early sound; as the Eighties progressed they took to using digital keyboards and their music lost much of its previous charm as a result.

The Cluster discography is very long and confused, encompassing Kluster (pre-Cluster line-up with Conrad Schnitzler), Cluster, Harmonia (Cluster with Michael Rother from Neu!), Cluster with Brian Eno, then Moebius and Roedelius’s numerous solo works and collaborations with other artists. As a result, a guide such as this is useful for the curious. So here we go with another blog list…

ClusterCluster 71 (1971)
A timeless racket. Three long noisy slabs of synth distortion that make the first two noisy Kraftwerk albums seem positively melodic. This could easily be passed off as an unreleased Throbbing Gristle or Cabaret Voltaire album.

ClusterCluster II (1972)
The second album continues the granular challenge but lets some light and music into the mix.

HarmoniaDeluxe (1975)
I prefer the second Harmonia album to the first, and prefer both to Cluster’s third opus, Zuckerzeit, recorded around the same time as this. Michael Rother’s involvement in Harmonia pushes the sound very close to Neu! in places, especially the more melodic strains of Neu! 75.

HarmoniaHarmonia 76: Tracks & Traces (1976)
Albums of studio outtakes are usually for die-hard listeners only but this one is surprisingly good with an outstanding long atmospheric piece, Sometimes In Autumn. Brian Eno was hanging out with Cluster by this point and he contributes a vocal on Luneberg Heath.

ClusterSowiesoso (1976)
The most melodic and relaxed of all the Cluster albums and the one which birthed a host of inferior copyists on the Sky label.

Cluster & Eno (1977)
Recorded at around the same time as By This River on Eno’s Before And After Science. Holger Czukay from Can is a guest on the Eno albums.

Eno, Moebius & Roedelius—After The Heat (1978)
Of the two Cluster & Eno albums this is probably the best and ends with three Eno songs which turned out to be his last vocal works until Nerve Net in 1992. Note that the CD reissue has a different (and in my view, inferior) track ordering to the vinyl original.

ClusterGrosses Wasser (1979)
Produced by ex-Tangerine Dream member Peter Baumann and recorded at his studio which gave the Cluster guys the opportunity to use his superior synth equipment. As a result a couple of the tracks here are very similar to Baumann’s solo work.

Moebius & PlankRastakraut Pasta (1980)
This album and its follow-up should be added to the list of works which influenced Eno & Byrne’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. The opening track News, features sampled radio voices (as per later Eno & Byrne) mixed with a plodding rhythm that includes a recurrent synth note that’s the spit of similar sounds used on My Life.

Moebius & Plank—Material (1981)
Genius producer Conny Plank brought out the best in many of the artists he worked with and these two collaborations with Moebius are a great example of that. He had a similar effect with Roedelius on an early solo album, Durch die Wüste, moving Roedelius out of his ambient keyboards comfort zone. The tone on Material is more strident and uptempo than Rastakraut Pasta, especially on Tollkühn which is like some mad techno synth run ten years too early.

Cluster and co. on YouTube
Cluster 71
Harmonia—Deluxe (Immer Wieder)
Cluster—Sowiesoso
Cluster & Eno—Für Luise
Brian Eno—By This River

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Avant Garde Project
White Noise: Electric Storms, Radiophonics and the Delian Mode
Chrome: Perfumed Metal
Metabolist: Goatmanauts, Drömm-heads and the Zuehl Axis
The music of Igor Wakhévitch
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts